UPDATE! Please note that, as of October 2022, expungements in New Jersey have been taking an unprecedented amount of time to complete with the average case taking two to two and a half years from start to finish. This is largely due to COVID-19 backlog and lack of staffing within the New Jersey State Police. We believe that this delay violates the expungement statute and, as a result, we have begun filing motions to expedite expungements on behalf of our clients. You can read more about these motions by clicking here.
Very often, our expungement clients inquire as to whether or not it is possible to obtain an expedited expungement in New Jersey. This question is reasonable, as many individuals seek to remove their criminal record after it poses a problem. Some of our expungement clients, for example, have come to us after they have lost a job, been denied an apartment, or have been told that they are unable to move forward in their nursing program. Understandably, these situations make people desperate for a fast expungement.
Unfortunately, the short answer as to whether there is a formal way to rush an expungement application in New Jersey is no. To understand why, a brief review of the expungement process is necessary. First, once your Expungement Petition is filed with the court, it will be sent to the county prosecutor as well as to the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) for review. Just like the county prosecutor, the NJSP Expungement Unit has the statutory right to object to your expungement if it determines that you are not eligible.
Both before and after your expungement’s hearing date, the NJSP Expungement Unit must be served with a copy of your Expungement Petition by Certified Mail. The NJSP will then conduct an extensive background check on you in order to make sure you are actually eligible for expungement. The NJSP’s policy is that they will review expungements on a first come, first served basis. Currently, the NJSP’s expungement unit is short staffed with hundreds of thousands of expungement petitions being filed every year. As a result, the NJSP is often asking the courts for additional time within which to review your expungement prior to the originally scheduled hearing date. This, unfortunately, can cause delay.
After the judge has granted your expungement and signed the Expungement Order, ordering all agencies to remove your criminal records from the database, the signed Expungement Order must then be served on the NJSP Expungement Unit for the second time, directing them to remove the records accordingly. Once the NJSP receives the signed Expungement Order, they are currently taking approximately three to four months to actually remove your criminal records from their system.
So How Long Does Expungement Take?
On average, expungements are currently taking approximately six months from start to finish to complete. Thus, despite what some attorneys may try to tell you, there is simply no way that your expungement will be completed within a matter of a couple of months. So, if an attorney tells you that they will expunge your record in three to four months, ask them to put that in writing for you. Since this is simply not possible, they will most likely refuse to put their promise in writing. At Katherine O’Brien Law, we want our expungements clients to be as happy at the end of the expungement process as they were in the beginning. Therefore, we are upfront about the length of time required for expungement.
Can Anything Be Done To Rush My Expungement?
As can be seen above, although some delay will be out of your expungement lawyer’s control, there are some things that both you and your lawyer can do to ensure that your expungement is processed as quickly as possible.
1. Obtain a Good Expungement Attorney
If you are trying to obtain an expungement on a rush basis, we cannot stress the importance of making sure that you retain a good expungement attorney. At Katherine O’Brien Law, we are experienced attorneys who focus on expungements in New Jersey. We do everything we can to ensure that there is no delay on our end in the processing of your expungement petition.
Moreover, if time is of the essence, we will not hesitate to reach out to the county prosecutor and/or the NJSP Expungement Unit when necessary to follow up, build a relationship and put in a good word, and/or explain the urgency of your particular situation.
2. Obtain Copies of Your Criminal Record
If you are interested in expediting your expungement and you live in the State of New Jersey, we suggest that you obtain copies of your criminal records from the relevant courts in person. In order to prepare your Petition for Expungement for filing, your expungement attorney will need a copy of the official court record regarding the offense.
When an attorney writes to obtain a copy of your record, it can take anywhere from a couple of days for a couple of weeks to receive a copy of your record. If you are able to visit the court in person, however, they will usually provide you with a copy of your record that same day.
If your matter was heard in a New Jersey Municipal Court, the record you will want to request from the Municipal Court Clerk is called the “Disposition.” If you are trying to expunge a matter that was heard in a New Jersey Superior Court, on the other hand, the record you will want to request from the Criminal Records Division Clerk is called the “Judgment of Conviction.” Non-certified copies of these records are fine.
3. Provide Accurate Criminal History Information
Finally, in order to ensure that your expungement is processed in a quick manner, it is vital that you provide accurate criminal history information to your attorney. If you fail to do so, the county prosecutor and/or NJSP will object to your expungement on the basis that you failed to disclose your entire criminal record, thereby resulting in a lengthy delay.
Thus, it is imperative that you advise your attorney of all criminal arrests that you have ever had, regardless of what state they occurred in and regardless of whether or not you were convicted. This includes minor offenses such as ordinance violations (such as noise complaints) and DWI charges in a state in which they are considered a criminal offense. If you are unsure of what your criminal record consists of, read our post for Instructions on How to Obtain a Criminal History Background Check Report.
Affordable, Expedited Expungement Lawyers
At Katherine O’Brien Law, we focus on expungements. Thus, we have developed a streamlined process in order to ensure that our clients obtain expungements in the fastest manner possible. In addition, we recognize that many of our clients are out of work or are unable to obtain promotions due to their criminal records. Thus, we offer affordable expungements starting at just $895.00 (all inclusive). In addition, we offer flexible payment plans and can get started working on your expungement for as little as $350.00 down. Contact us today at 856-832-2482 for a free consultation.